Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Whatever Doug Bradleys payday was to reprise his Pinhead role in 2000s HELLRAISER: Inferno, that had to have been the easiest few bucks hes ever made in show business. Considering the character appeared on-screen for a total of maybe five minutes, yeah thats not a bad way to earn a check.
HELLRAISER: Inferno, the fifth movie in the series, has decided, under the guidance of writers Paul Boardman and Scott Derrickson (who also directed--the pair also wrote THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, which Derrickson directed), to forego the mythology the franchise has built up to this point, to do away with the pain as pleasure angle and to opt instead for a straight who-dunnit-mystery story. Denver Detective Joseph Thorne (Cragi Sheffer, NIGHTBREED) shows up at the murder scene of a man he went to high school with. Jimmy Cho has been torn to pieces and, amid the evidence left behind, is a puzzle box. After whatever prints on the box have been taken and run through the system, Thorne takes the box to a motel room where he does coke with a hooker. Did I forget to mention Det. Thorne isnt the straightest cop on the Denver Police?
The next day, Thorne gets a call from Daphne (Sasha Barrese, THE HANGOVER), the hooker he spent the night with. Shes frantic, panicked, and then the call goes dead. When Thorne and his partner, Tony (Nicholas Turtorro, Third Watch), show up at the motel room, they find Daphne strung up and dead in the shower. Thorne tells Tony the truth about his involvement and the drugs, but says he didnt kill her. Tony believes him, and they proceed to wipe all of Thornes prints from everything in the room. But just to be doubly protected, Thorne drops Tonys pen and empty cigarette pack in the room.
After the computer finds a print match, Thorne is led to a body modification shop where a thug tells him the box from Jimmy Chos house was stolen, that it belongs to the Engineer, who wants it back. This leads Thorne to one of his snitches, Bernie, who tells him what he knows of the Engineer, which is mostly that hes bad news. Thorne is later given a videotape showing Bernies death at the hands of a whip hed seen previously at the body shop, but when he tries to show the tape to his Captain, its blank. The plot thickens around Thorne; every murder victim had some kind of connection to him, however tenuous with the first victim being an old classmate.
Thorne is directed to see the squad shrink, but little comes of it and Thorne is soon back on the job, trying to track down the Engineer. The thing is, at the scene of every murder, Thorne finds a severed finger. Evidence says the finger belongs to a child, and that at the time it was cut off, the child was still alive, so Thorne is desperately trying to find the kid before its too late. But as the investigation goes on and as the bodies pile up, Thornes mental state deteriorates even further until the only place left for him to go is into total madness. And the chances of him reaching that point are pretty good.
HELLRAISER: Inferno does not have the feel of a Hellraiser movie at all, not for one second. Not even the very brief appearances of the cenobites--another all-new batch, no one were familiar with except a new Chatterer and Pinhead--convinces me this was ever meant to be a Hellraiser movie. If anything, the plot and storytelling method both have the feel of a really LONG episode of Freddys Nightmares, or at the very least a really bad NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequel. Hellraiser stories are about flesh and temptation and carnal delights, not a game of cat and mouse with ones own psyche. There is nothing psychological about the cenobites. You seek new sensations, you open the box, they take you to hell and give you what you asked for. They dont play mind games and they dont lead you on wild goose chases.
I was patient with HELLRAISER III, and I tolerated HELLRAISER: Bloodline, but when I originally saw it, I felt HELLRAISER: Inferno was a turning point in the series from which there was probably no coming back. The steady decline in quality of the movies over the previous couple of sequels, with this one, took such a huge and irreparable nosedive, I honestly expected this to be the last movie (shows what I know).
The one saving grace of this movie was the casting of Craig Sheffer as Joseph Thorne. Ive always liked Sheffer and thought he was underrated. His performance here as the drug-addled crooked cop on the edge is one of his finest. Then again, given how the rest of the cast didnt do or say much of any importance, it wasnt hard for him to outshine them. Even James Remar (DEXTER) as Dr. Paul Gregory, the squad shrink, seems to be just going through the motions.
Even taken as a standalone movie, if I viewed Inferno without the Hellraiser bits, what few there were, what were left with is a story of one characters descent, but he is never able to achieve that redemption that would have brought the story full-circle. We see a brief glimpse of the man Thorne could be, the man we know he WANTS to be, but he just never reaches that state, leaving the viewer unsatisfied and empty. But then to try to shoehorn the puzzle box and Pinhead into it
it just doesnt work.
I know oftentimes in movies, you get a script that has nothing to do with a certain franchise, but it gets rewritten to fit anyway so a new sequel can be released, and from what I have read, that was the case with this movie--and at least one or two more in the franchise--and I think sometimes the producers and director and the studio manage to pull it off pretty well without the seams showing through TOO obviously. I can promise you one thing; no one comes to a Hellraiser movie for psychology. We want to see cenobites coming after and torturing human victims with glimpses of Hell and mysticism. Period. It would be like watching a Hannibal Lector movie and the whole thing revolves around the fact Lector gets all his intelligence from the people he eats. Sure, they could do it in a way that makes sense--that is a common myth about cannibalism, after all--but thats not what Lector fans came for. And the fans would still watch it, but theyd be doing so with a sense of shame burning in their gut, just like I had when this movie ended.
Then again, perhaps they just needed to do something where Pinhead isnt outsmarted and defeated in the end. After all, how many times do you think one of hells agents is going to get beaten by a puny human before hes demoted to hells traffic cop? Still, its pretty bad when youre watching a 99-minute HELLRAISER movie and not only does the main antagonist only show up for a few seconds, but the box is touched a whole once in the entire thing. The whole movie was just a letdown from start to finish. Unfortunately I already know the follow-up didnt fare any better. But well get to that.
Theyll Tear Your Soul Apart:
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
Hellbound: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Hellbound: Hellraiser: Bloodline
Read all 17 Reviews
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older